Holiday Favorites

Nut Free Thanksgiving Menu

Jumping into leaf piles!
Jumping into leaf piles! We love fall!

Tradition gives us hope and happiness, and while I know it won’t be the same this year without my husband’s Mom here (we miss her so much already), we are going to try to incorporate some of our usual traditions to help carry us through to a new beginning and happier 2018. Especially for the kids. They need this the most, to see how we persevere in light of adversity.

For thanksgiving this year, we’re going to use the staples most of us have had, sans the nuts, as per usual, except the one cooking in the kitchen! Here’s what we are thinking.

  1.  Do nothing. Do absolutely nothing, call Whole Foods and have the entire thing catered because 2017 has sucked out loud. Click: Whole Foods Holiday Meals
  2. Welp, if you’re the go-geter kind and Pinterest pressured (so me, see: Bad Mom’s + Bad Mom’s Christmas) into making the whole damn thing, these are some helpful links that we’ve used in the past.
    1. Do order your Turkey from Whole Foods – they have the BEST tasting turkeys, this is where my mom usually orders hers from. This year we’re smoking the turkey using this technique Smoked Turkey Recipe
    2. Green Bean Casserole
    3. Roasted Brussel Sprouts
    4. Cranberry Sauce
    5. 12 Minute Mashed Potatoes
    6. Allergy Free Stuffing
    7. Canned Chilled Cranberry (IS THE BEST)
    8. Mushroom Gravy (V/GF/PN/TN Free)
    9. Roasted Acorn Squash
    10. Stuffing (GF) Alternative
    11. Apple Pie
    12. Pumpkin Pie w/ King Arthur Nut Free Flour
    13. Rhodes Bake N Serv Dinner Rolls Nut Free
    14. Seghesio Wine
    15. Chocolate Milk (Nut Free / GF)
  3. Don’t forget the relish trays. If you’re in Wisconsin, you know there has to be cheese, crackers and sausage. And pickles and olives. And possibly a small veggie tray.
  4. Lastly, tablescaping is uber important. Pretty Natural Table

There you have it – our Thanksgiving meal in a nutshell. Don’t forget the Egg Nog, and to turn on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to get everyone in the holiday spirit.  As always, we will be double checking all of the labels on the above items, even though I’m 99.9% sure they are all OK since we use them frequently. My favorite part is the pie – and watching everyone around the table laughing and having a good time.  What’s yours? I hope wherever you are, you have a wonderful holiday week surrounded by the ones you love the most.

Happy start to the Holidays!

xoxo

Snacking, Travel, Weeknight Dinners

Buzzy’s Lake House Food Truck

Hold the phone.

Nut allergy friends REJOICE! Your food truck woes are OVER.

Yesterday my little buddy and I (still on house arrest – kind of sick, but not really, check out my IG for more info on this) were hanging out on the square in downtown Madison when we decided to check out a local food truck, Buzzy’s Lake House via my Instagram feed.

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Buzzy’s was parked on the corner of Wisconsin + Mifflin, which was uber convenient since we were at the toy store one block away. Capitol Kids is probably one of my favorite stores for kiddo swag in all of Madison. They have the most unique gifts, and hard to find items, too. But on this particular chill day, we were just playing with choo choos and enjoying the sunshine!

Buzzy’s is AMAZING. As a foodie, this is the BEST food truck food I have EVER had (and my super foodie husband agrees, so you know it’s good.)

The issue we have with many food trucks, and restaurants in general, is that they cannot guarantee that cross contact with nuts does not happen in their kitchens, so we cannot eat there. For example, we cannot eat at Melt, that yummy food truck that ONLY sells delish grilled cheese sandwiches because their bread is made in a bakery that handles nuts. Frown face.

Buzzy’s owner + culinary trained, professional chef, Cyndi, told us the food that she makes (excluding the sweets + cookies) are nut-free. Happy dance! And I trust her 100%.

So what kind of food is it? It’s your favorites, all of them.

  1. Main Dishes
    1. Bobber Chicken
    2. Sunset Chicken
    3. Dockside Chicken Chili
    4. Wavey Turkey Meatballs
    5. Firepit Curry – YOU JUST NEED TO EAT THIS
    6. Pontoon Pulled Pork Sandwich
  2. Sides
    1. Jasmine Brown Rice
    2. Smashed Cheddar Baked Potatoes
    3. Baked Beans
    4. Side Salads
    5. Homemade cookies + assorted beverages

I had the featured item, pictured on IG, and that’s what drew me in:

Chicken Chili Bowl over rice with cheddar, sour cream and scallions.

***sorry, no pic, I woofed it down too fast***

IT WAS AMAZING. And FLAVORFUL. And HUGE. If you’re ravenous hungry, come here. If you’re coming along with kids, one main dish could feed two littles. The key here is that Cyndi is a professional chef. Her flavor profiles are spot on with everything she makes (we started visiting this food truck last April after Theater Class on State during Farmers Market – her breakfast is also amaze.)  You’re going to get a great meal, no matter what you pick. It’s alllllll good.

So, if you’re downtown walking the farmers market, having a meeting, strolling state street, visiting the capitol, or looking for a really yummy, quick and delish lunch, check out Buzzy’s Lake House. You won’t regret it.

Buzzy’s Lake House

@buzzyslakehouse

Cheers to the weekend friends! Thanks for stopping by! Lots to write – I hope I have some more time this weekend to still tell you about Dr. Pain’s Pain-free French Toast Recipe! Its so good.

 

Snacking, Weeknight Dinners

Gazpacho

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Now that tomato season is here, it’s time to share some of our favorite recipes to use up all of these lovely red + yellow friends.

Yesterday we canned 7 quarts of tomato chunks (technically they are called stewed tomatoes) and today we’re working on tomato juice. There is no better smell than opening up a fresh jar of tomatoes from the garden on February 26th – right in the middle of “is winter almost over, I may actually need Xanax to get me though the next 3 months of darkness in the mid-west” season.

The kids love canning tomatoes and it teaches them some good lessons about food, and why we continue to can vegetables today.  We come from middle class, hard-working families where canning was a necessity when we were kids.  Being able to afford lots of fresh produce was a luxury we didn’t have. So we made our own. Little did we know it would be a life lesson we would pass on to our own kids one day.

Canning food:

  • acts as a good reminder for where our food comes from
  • how important gardening/farming is
  • the role of weather and water
  • how to care for a garden, plants and the Earth (something besides yourself)
  • teaches patience (watching a small tomato plant grow into a 7 foot weedy monster is incredible, and takes MONTHS)
  • how lucky we are to live in a country where we have an endless amount of food to choose from an array of markets and stores.

Funny quotes from the kids:

  • “Look, band-aids Mama.  I’m taking off his band-aids.”  — Carter after blanching + peeling
  • “I’m taking out his monster guts.” — Chloe on seeding tomatoes
  • “It’s like I’m carving a mini-pumpkin.” — Carter on chopping tomatoes
  • “Can we make more Gazpacho next?” — Chloe

The Gazpacho recipe is easy, and you can make it in your food processor or large blender. If you’re batching it, I guess a nutri-bullet would work too.

Gazpacho is chilled tomato soup. It’s amazing. If you haven’t had any, you must try some. In the Milwaukee area, I recommend Beans and Barley on North Ave + Farwell.  In Madison, check out Zoup! on Greenway Boulevard.

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Keehn Family Gazpacho

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds vine-ripe medium tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 2 small kirby cucumbers, coarsely chopped
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 cups tomato juice (we use Campbell’s Tomato Juice)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon Spanish paprika
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup sherry wine vinegar (1/4 cup balsamic + 1/4 cup rice wine is a substitute if you don’t have sherry wine!)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced

Directions

  1. Add the tomatoes, cucumbers, bell pepper, onion, and garlic to food processor.
  2. Puree the ingredients until almost smooth, leaving a little texture.
  3. Pour the vegetable mixture into a large bowl; stir in the tomato juice, sugar, paprika, salt, pepper, vinegar, oil, parsley, and lemon juice until well combined.
  4. Refrigerate the soup for at least 2 hours until very well chilled; the flavors will develop as it sits.
  5. Season the gazpacho again with salt and pepper before serving. Serve in chilled bowls or tureen and top with desired garnishes.
  6. We love to top our with sliced avocado or hard boiled eggs.

This recipe is extremely allergy friendly, free of the Top 8 Allergens.

  1. Milk
  2. Eggs
  3. Peanuts
  4. Tree nuts (such as almonds, cashews, walnuts)
  5. Fish (such as bass, cod, flounder)
  6. Shellfish (such as crab, lobster, shrimp)
  7. Soy
  8. Wheat

Have a wonderful and restful Labor Day Weekend. Cheers!

Weeknight Dinners

Quick Green Chicken Chili

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One of the best parts of traveling is trying new food. And then taking that idea home with you and recreating it in your kitchen. I haven’t always been adventurous with creating delicious food. And I’m probably even more cautious now with a nut-allergic child. However, I still try to sample things I normally would not.

Like Green Chicken Chili.

I had a spicy version of this when we were in Chicago a few weeks ago. Technically, I consider myself a chili connoisseur. If a restaurant has chili, I try it. It’s a quest to find the BEST CHILI EVER!

After we got back from vacation, I was flipping through this months Cooking Light Magazine for meal inspiration that would work well for our family. The recipe below comes pretty darn close to what I had in Chicago. And after talking to the chef, it’s also 100% nut-free!

This recipe makes 6 servings. It’s good for dinner + easy lunches. It’s super fast because it uses tasty rotisserie chicken (I swear, my little guy could eat an entire rotisserie chicken all by himself!) Hy-Vee and Metcalfes are my favorite in Madison.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock, divided (I like Rachael Ray, her salt level is perfection)
  • 2 (15-oz.) cans unsalted Great Northern beans, rinsed, drained, and divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 (4-oz.) cans mild chopped green chiles, drained (or if you have them in your garden, fresh is OK, too. Just seed them first)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 ounces boneless, skinless rotisserie chicken breast, shredded (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup sliced radishes
  • 2 tablespoons light sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced
  • 1 cup brown rice

Directions

  1. You’ll need to get out your dutch oven, or large kettle, and a small sauce pan for your rice.
  2. First, make your rice in your small sauce pan. I like jasmine rice or brown rice. They are made the same way – just follow your package instructions. 2.5 cups of water + 2 tbsp evoo and a pinch of salt over high heat. Add the rice, bring to a boil. Boil for about 3-4 minutes until the water line is just below the rice. Cover the pot and don’t touch it for 15 minutes.
  3. Next heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Sprinkle flour over pan; cook 1 minute. Stir in cumin and chiles; cook 1 minute. Add beans and chicken stock, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and salt; bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to medium; simmer 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add chicken; cook 2 minutes. Stir in juice.
  5. Remove your rice from the heat and fluff – using an ice cream scooper, plop the rice into your bowls.
  6. Divide chili among 4 bowls; top with radishes, sour cream, cilantro, avocado, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Birthday Parties, How to be Nutfree, School Safe List, Snacking, Uncategorized

School Safe Treat Box

20170818_150058.jpgIt’s back-to-school time! If your child has food allergies, now is the time to be pro-active and get your plans and snacks in place. Here’s how we prepare:

  1. Contact the school nurse/office and keep an EPI-PEN on file at the front desk.
  2. Make sure all medical forms are filled out and complete with the front office.
  3. Know your school’s allergy policy. Make sure there is an allergy policy.
  4. Make contact with the child’s teacher (s) and make sure they all know about your child’s allergy, and what the steps are to keep him/her safe. Keep it simple here.
  5. Talk to your child about saying “no” to all classroom treats. This is tough, but it’s the ONLY way to stay safe at school.
  6. Use an allergy bracelet for your child.
  7. Keep an EPI-PEN inside your child’s backpack at all times so it is easily accessible. I like to keep ours in an AllerMates case – it has our phone number and contact information inside.
  8. Build the treat box and have fun with it. We decorated ours with stickers, and I made a special trip to the grocery store with just my daughter so she could take her time choosing treats. They better be good, after all, they are replacing classroom birthday treats! That’s a big deal!

Our treat box is filled with:

  1. Simply Balanced fruit leathers from Target
  2. Hostess Ding-Dongs
  3. Little Bites Brownies
  4. Little Bites Party Cakes
  5. Enjoy Life Chocolate Candy-Bars

Our treat box will be kept inside the classroom for the entire school year. These snacks will replace Birthday treats, holiday treats, party treats and any other time a treat or snack is brought into the class. We used the same size last year and only had to fill it one time. At the end of the year, we had about 6 treats left over.

I also like to reference this website to help prepare for the school year. It can be especially helpful if your school doesn’t have a comprehensive allergy policy.

Food Allergy Resource Center  – I thought this article below was a good reminder, too.

Food Allergy Tips for Parent-Teacher Organizations (PTOs) and Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs).
Today, one in 13 children has food allergies, and nearly 40 percent of these children have experienced a severe or lifethreatening reaction. Many of these reactions happen at school. Parent-Teacher Organizations (PTOs) and Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) are a vital part of the school community, providing an organized family and community component.

As a PTO or PTA leader, you can be a powerful voice for your children and other children, advocating for their health, safety, education and overall well-being.
Children with food allergies need your support to ensure their safety and inclusion. From classroom parties, to school family nights, to after-school fundraisers, keep in mind that all students in the community should be able to participate safely.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published National Guidelines for Managing Food Allergies in Schools, available at http://www.foodallergy.org/CDC. The recommendations below are a few examples of recommended
practices to help ensure students with food allergies are safely included. We encourage you to review the complete list of the CDC’s Recommended Practices, on pages 41–43 of the guidelines available at http://www.foodallergy.org/CDC.
• Avoid the use of identified allergens in class parties, holidays, celebrations, crafts, snacks or rewards.
• Use non-food incentives for prizes, gifts, awards, and fundraisers.
• When possible, avoid ordering foods from restaurants because food allergens may be present, but unrecognized.
Have ingredient information readily available for all pre-packaged and/or catered food items.
• Do not exclude children with food allergies from events or extra-curricular activities.
• Make sure that food allergy policies and practices address foods available during fundraisers, class parties, at
athletic events and during after-school programs.
• Have rapid access to epinephrine auto-injectors in cases of emergency and train staff to use them.

Did you know?

Food allergies may constitute a disability under the law. Children with food allergies are entitled to an equal opportunity to participate in all school programs and events including extra-curricular activities. This usually applies to activities held by groups such as PTOs and PTAs. (See Section 5 of the CDC guidelines for more information on federal laws that pertain to food allergies.)

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Sun flowers are so important to us nut allergic families. Sun butter is our alternative to peanut butter.

Have a great first day back to school. I hope your preparations put your mind at ease a little.

 

Uncategorized, Weeknight Dinners

Weeknight Homemade Chicken Soup

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You don’t have to be sick to enjoy a good bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup. I’ve been craving this soup for a while. I made a version of it last week for a friend and I just couldn’t help myself today. I had to make it.

Ingredients:

  • One Rotisserie Chicken, you can find this at your grocers deli counter. Cube your chicken pieces and set aside.
  • 8 cups / two boxes of salted chicken stock (Rachael Ray is safe)
  • 1 carrot, peeled + thinly sliced
  • 3 ribs of celery, halved + thinly sliced
  • 1/2 white onion, diced small (can also use 1 palm/tbsp powdered onion)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced ( can also use 1 palm full/tbsp garlic powder)
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary – dry works too (Penzey’s Spices are safe)
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • 2-3 handfuls of flat egg noodles

Directions:

  1. In a Dutch Oven, drizzle the two tbsp of evoo over medium high heat.
  2. Add carrots, celery and soften, about 8-10 minutes
  3. Add the garlic and onion and all the herbs, heat until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes
  4. Add all the chicken stock
  5. Bring to a boil
  6. Simmer
  7. Stir stir stir
  8. Add cubed chicken + your choice of pasta
  9. Simmer for 15-20 minutes + make sure your pasta is cooked through
  10. Enjoy! Yield: 8

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If you don’t want the pasta to get mushy, I would cook the pasta separately. This way, if you know you’ll have leftovers, you can save it for later in the week and have pre-made, non-mushy pasta each time! Nothing worse than soggy noodles.

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Mom Things, Travel, Uncategorized

Vacation Preparation Tips

Did you know that using hand sanitizer does NOT remove allergens from your hands or any other surface? It basically moves the allergen around. The only way to remove an allergen is by washing it away with soap and water or by using a sanitizing wipe.

I’ve started to think about what we’re going to be doing on our vacation and the types of bags I’ll be carrying around with my kids. For day-time I’m going to be doing a lot of walking with them, so I usually pick a light-weight cross body bag so that my hands are free to hold theirs (awwwwwwwe).

If we’re going to be out all day without any stops, I may use a backpack or light weight tote/catch-all to carry some emergency snacks, books, and a change of clothes for them.

Today, we stocked up on safe snacks that are purse friendly. Here’s a classic stand-by for us that I’ll be using on vacation.

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  1. Epi-Pen twin pack
  2. Chewable Benadryl
  3. Individually wrapped anti-bac hand WIPES (I carry a lot of these)
  4. Luna Bar LemonZest flavor is made on a dedicated nut-free line. It also has a lot of good vitamins in it, so I don’d mind if we sub this for a meal/snack.
  5. Mom essentials, lip gloss, cards, keys + phone. This purse has a separate built-in space for credit cards, etc. It’s one of the reasons I chose this bag, it fits all of my Mom Essentials + Allergy Meds and a snack.

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Our trip starts off with a short car ride, no snacks needed. Then we take a train, which will be super fun for my little guy. For the train, we’ll eat some pre-packed snacks before checking into our hotel. Our hotel is aware of our allergies and is quite accommodating. Since we’ll be in a bigger city, our food options should be OK with allergies, although I never take any chances, and will have a full array of stand-by snacks and alternate restaurants to choose from.

I’m sure I’m forgetting something!